From fondant, filo pastry and fine finishes to  pig swill and scraping the barrel

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It’s been about a week since The Great British Bake Off concluded, and we’re already being treated to all the Victorian Bakers has to offer. This is BBC gold.

You only need to watch a clip from Victorian Bakers to notice the poor light, the cramped spaces they worked in, the rudimentary equipment (where’s the Kitchen Aid stand mixer eh?) and exhausting physical demands of the work.

It’s no good older people telling us we’re lucky. That things were harder in their day. Money tighter, food pricier and much more limited. Sometimes we have to see it for ourselves.

In contrast Bake Off was staged in a well-lit tent in an area that could house a Victorian slum and the finest, most reliable equipment. I’m not slandering either programme: they’re both unmissable.

Was this light historical underlining on the BBC’s part? Look how far we’ve come. Look how lucky we are. If so, they’re forgiven even though it’s not their job. We need that sometimes.

It’s no good older people telling us we’re lucky. That things were harder in their day. Money tighter, food pricier and much more limited. Sometimes we have to see it for ourselves.

When I shop and store and think up what to cook for my family’s meals or ponder ways of using up leftovers, I can feel smug and smart. If I start pricing up what our meals have cost per head. I can be intoxicated with how wonderful I am. I do pretty well.

But watching the Victorian bakers literally put their backs into kneading, heaving sacks of flour abut and working in those small, hot spaces, I’m soon put into my place. What I do is nothing compared to what went on in last century.

Feed your children something edible food and eat animal fodder yourself (can’t afford to feed the whole family). Who in Britain has to make that decision today?

But deciding to show this programme right after the wonderful indulgences of 21st-century contestants was the right thing to do.

Bake Off was the broadcasting of skilled people showing off and playing with food really. (How many creations went wrong and were binned?)

Victorian Bakers is a sudden but tender jolt telling us what the poor endured. Feed your children something edible food and eat animal fodder yourself (can’t afford to feed the whole family). Who in Britain has to make that decision today?

Both programmes are important. Both entertaining. Though I begin to be plagued with guilt when considering that watching what people endured is providing me with mere entertainment… that can’t be right.

While I don’t want to see any TV channel moralising or sending sinister messages through programming, I see nothing wrong in this kind of contrast. To me, that’s all it is.

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